Imagine you're reaching the end of a presentation that's been going exceedingly well. You go for the close only to learn the manager you've spent the last 45 minutes with doesn't have as much authority as you'd assumed. Indeed, in command as the individual appears to be, he finally admits to not being a key decision maker at a retailer you want very much to land.
All is not lost, of course. You'll likely return as soon as possible to meet with the right person. However, you have wasted time: yours and the manager's.
"You do not want your time wasted, and prospects feel the same way," Paul H. Green wrote in Good Selling!SM The Basics. "A professional salesperson will always qualify the person he or she talks to before giving a presentation to prevent wasting time or having to make yet another visit."
The way to do this is to hone your skills when it comes to qualifying prospects. The person you meet with must have the authority to sign a service agreement and follow through with implementation. Here are three questions Green offered to help discover whether the person you're speaking with is, indeed, a decision maker at the company:
Once you have the attention of the person in authority, you can ask additional questions to encourage productive conversation and further qualify the prospect. Here are examples adapted from a June 15, 2016, post by Emma Brudner at http://blog.hubspot.com/sales/16-sales-qualification-questions-to-identify-prospects-worth-pursuing#sm.0001sda6w8hwtcytr4x1b3fd8vdst:
So in your enthusiasm for growing your merchant portfolio, remember to fully qualify prospects before meeting with them. Your time, and theirs, is precious.
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